Most women enter the menopausal stage of life between the ages of 45 and 55. After the hormonal storms of perimenopause and menopause pass, postmenopause begins. You’ll find some helpful information for understanding this life stage below!
What Is Postmenopause?
Postmenopause occurs when you have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months or more. People who enter postmenopause remain in this menopausal stage for the rest of their life. Once you enter postmenopause, your hormone levels remain low, and your ovaries stop releasing eggs. As such, you will no longer get your period or become pregnant after postmenopause.
The 3 Stages of Menopause in Women
The three stages of menopause are:
- Perimenopause: Perimenopause is characterized by the onset of menopausal symptoms. During this time, hormone levels begin declining and menstrual cycles become unpredictable and irregular. You may also start experiencing various symptoms typical of menopause during perimenopause because of hormonal changes. These symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, fatigue and trouble concentrating.
- Menopause: Menopause occurs when your body stops producing the hormones that regulate menstrual cycles.
- Postmenopause: Postmenopause is life after menopause. The official line between menopause and postmenopause is 12 months without having your period.
The Symptoms of Postmenopause
As your hormones stabilize at lower levels with postmenopause, postmenopause symptoms are less intense than those of perimenopause. Still, many symptoms from the previous two menopausal stages may linger with postmenopause. Some symptoms you may experience during postmenopause include:
- Dry skin.
- Hair loss.
- Hot flashes from decreased estrogen levels.
- Night sweats.
- Sexual discomfort.
- Sex drive changes.
- Urinary incontinence.
- Vaginal dryness, which may result in light bleeding.
- Weight changes.
Despite some symptom continuance, you may regain some energy once you transition from menopause to postmenopause.
If postmenopause symptoms begin to disrupt your daily life, it is worth talking to your doctor.
Associated Health Risks
Various health risks coincide with postmenopause. Two primary health risks associated with postmenopause include:
- Cardiovascular disease: Menopause doesn’t directly cause cardiovascular disease, but its occurrence rate rises amongst postmenopausal women. Part of this increased risk is from estrogen’s effect on blood vessels, among other factors.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis occurs when your bones thin to below-average density. Although gradual bone loss occurs with age, it is minimal compared to osteoporotic bone loss. Decreased estrogen production during menopause accelerates bone loss, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
What Kind of Treatment Is Needed in Postmenopause?
Postmenopausal treatment varies with your symptoms and overall health. In some cases, people with postmenopause don’t need any treatment. In others, treatment is needed to mitigate health risks associated with postmenopause. Fortunately, many menopause medications can help you through postmenopause. If postmenopause symptoms have a significant impact on your life, contact your health provider for advice.
Treatment for postmenopause may involve instilling healthy habits, medication, supplements or therapies to manage symptoms and increase your quality of life. Some treatment examples include:
- Antidepressants for depression or mood changes.
- Diets rich in plant-based sources of estrogen, including chickpeas, flaxseed and legumes.
- Hormone replacement therapy to restore lost estrogen levels.
- Medication for hot flashes, such as gabapentin.
- Meditation, yoga or mindfulness exercises.
- Using water-based lubricants for sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal creams to treat sexual discomfort or vaginal dryness.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about supplements you take during postmenopause, as contraindications to these treatments are inherent in any individual situation. Consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplements and be aware of their benefits and the health risks they pose to prevent them.
Before, during and after menopause, take care of yourself and your body. Finding the right provider to help you create a personalized care plan may not end all menopause symptoms, but it can make your time much easier. We welcome you to call us for an appointment with one of our exceptional OB/GYN providers at Mile High OB/GYN if you are experiencing postmenopausal difficulties.